Travel to Bulgaria for work

This guide is for British citizens travelling for business or other work purposes. It explains what employers, employees, or the self-employed need to do if they need a visa or permit.

Entry requirements

If you’re going to Bulgaria to work (or any other EU country, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein) you must make sure you meet passport and other travel requirements.
On the day you travel, you’ll need your passport to both:

  • have at least 6 months left
  • be less than 10 years old (even if it has 6 months or more left)

If you’re travelling for business for up to 90 days in a 180-day period, you may be able to do some work-related things without needing a visa or work permit, such as attend business meetings. These are usually covered by the Schengen visa waiver rules .

Although Bulgaria isn’t in the Schengen area it still applies the 90-day rule, but it applies it differently.

If you’re going for other types of work you may need a visa, work permit or residence permit.

Bulgaria’s authorities are responsible for setting and enforcing entry rules. They decide which activities need a visa or permit, or which may be exempt.

If you’re working in more than one country you’ll need to check the entry rules of each country.

If you need a passport, visa or permit you should apply well in advance of travel.

Visa and permit documents

This guide explains the general application process for some of the visa or permit types available in Bulgaria. It includes a checklist of documents that you’ll usually need to include when applying.

It may not cover all scenarios so you must always check the exact application process and document requirements with Bulgaria’s embassy.

You must also check what format the documents should be presented in, including if they must be:

  • translated
  • ‘legalised’ (apostillised) or notarised
  • originals, or if copies are acceptable
  • signed in ink (a wet signature), or if they can be signed electronically (an e-signature)
  • dated within a certain period of time, such as 30 days before you submit your application

Countries often use the terms visa, work permit and residence permit differently. For example, some may refer to a work permit as a visa.

This guide uses the same terms used in Bulgaria, so you know which ones to use when speaking to Bulgaria’s authorities.

Check if you need a visa or permit

Bulgaria is not in the Schengen area but it still applies the visa waiver 90-day rule.

90 days as a group

The Schengen area countries and Romania apply the 90-day waiver rule as a group. This means if you travel from one of these countries to another, or visit more than one within a 180 day-period, it all counts towards the 90-day limit.

Bulgaria does not apply the 90 days as a group. You can spend up to 90 days in a 180-day period in other European countries and it won’t affect how long you can spend in Bulgaria. You’ll still be able to stay in Bulgaria for up to 90 days in a 180-day period.

You don’t need a visa or permit if you’re travelling to Bulgaria for up to 90 days in a 180-day period for:

  • running or attending job interviews
  • going to court as witness
  • attending trade fairs or conventions
  • attending board meetings
  • meeting clients or customers (including entertainment like eating at a restaurant)
  • meeting colleagues, contractors or sellers
  • fact-finding visits
  • negotiating deals or contracts
  • attending, speaking or presenting at a conference (unpaid)
  • studying
  • team building activities
  • visiting business partners
  • attending business meetings
  • touring a company facility
  • buying goods for sale outside the country
  • receiving classroom-based training
  • leisure travel, such as holidays or visiting friends or family

These activities are covered by the Schengen visa waiver.

Border checks

At the border, you may be asked to show:

  • proof of return travel, such as plane or train tickets
  • health insurance that covers your entire stay
  • proof of accommodation for your entire stay
  • enough money for the duration of your trip
  • an invitation letter from your employer explaining your trip, or other written proof, such as an invite to a seminar, interview or conference

Check Bulgaria’s exemptions

Certain types of work and activities do not require a visa or permit because they’re exempt.

All countries have their own exemptions. What may be exempt in one country may not be in another. You should always check with the country’s authorities.

Bulgaria does not have any exemptions. You must apply for a work permit if you want to work in Bulgaria.

Further checks

If you’re not sure if you need a visa or permit to travel you can get advice from Bulgaria’s embassy.

Applying for a visa or permit

This guide outlines the steps required for each visa or permit to help you prepare, but you’ll need to check the exact rules and processes with Bulgaria’s embassy.

Taking your family

If you have a family they won’t be able to apply for dependant permits for short trips. They may be able to join you for up to 90 days under the visa waiver rules.

There may be different rules for taking your family if you have a long-term permit.

Short and long-term visas and permits

You have to register for short-term employment if you’re in Bulgaria for up to 90 days in a 12-month period because you’re:

If you work for a tour operator you can work for up to 180 days in a 12-month period.

You need to apply for a long-term work permit if you’re in Bulgaria because you’re:

Long-term permits are valid for up to 4 years depending on which one you need.

You’re issued with a national D visa first and you collect your work permit once you get to Bulgaria. If you’re staying longer than your visa you need to apply for a residence permit.

Register short-term employment

You need to be registered for employment if you’re:

  • transferring short term to a branch in Bulgaria
  • providing short-term services to a client in Bulgaria for your UK employer

To qualify, you must:

  • keep your UK employment
  • stay on UK payroll

Employment registration takes 10 days. It’s valid for up to 90 days (180 days for tour operators) in a 12-month period and you can’t extend it.

How it works

You need to check with Bulgaria’s authorities on the exact process. This is a rough guide to help you prepare.

  1. The Bulgarian company registers your employment with the central administration of the employment agency in person, or by registered post. If sending it by post, they need to make sure they get evidence of delivery (a return receipt). This is to show it was submitted at least 10 days before you’re due to start work.

  2. The Bulgarian company notifies the General Labour Inspectorate of where you’ll be working once you’re registered. They must do this within 7 days of registering your employment.

Application documents

Bulgaria’s authorities may request different documents at different stages of the process. Usually, they need:

  • UK passport with 2 blank pages, valid for 3 months after your intended departure date
  • 3 completed original application forms (not photocopies), signed and stamped by the Bulgarian company
  • service contract between your UK employer and the Bulgarian company
  • assignment agreement with your UK employer
  • declaration of compliance with Bulgarian labour laws
  • original company registration certificate for the UK company
  • confirmation letter issued by your UK employer with the terms and conditions of your short-term work

Transferring long-term to a branch in Bulgaria or providing services to a client in Bulgaria

You need a long-term work permit if you’re:

  • transferring from a UK company to a branch in Bulgaria
  • providing services to a client in Bulgaria for a UK company

You can apply for an EU intra-company transfer (EU ICT) permit if you’re a manager, specialist or trainee working for at least 1 year.

If you don’t qualify for an EU ICT you can apply for a work permit (for posted workers).

You can also apply for this if you’re providing services to a client in Bulgaria for up to 1 year.

EU intra-company transfer (EU ICT) permit

You need a long-term EU ICT permit if your UK-based company moves you to a Bulgarian branch to work for:

  • up to 3 years
  • 1 year if you’re a trainee

To qualify you must:

  • be a manager, specialist or trainee
  • have a bachelor’s level degree if you’re a trainee
  • have relevant professional experience and qualifications if you’re working as a specialist or manager
  • have worked for the UK company for at least 12 months if you’re a manager or specialist, or 6 months if you’re a trainee
  • meet minimum salary requirements – you need to check the required amount with the Bulgarian authorities as it may change over time
  • keep your UK employment contract
  • stay on UK payroll

An EU ICT permit can take between 12 to 16 weeks to get. It can’t be extended beyond 3 years or 1 year for trainees.

If you have a spouse, or children under 18 they can join you with this permit type.

How it works

You need to check with Bulgaria’s authorities on the exact process. This is a rough guide to help you prepare.

  1. Your employer submits an ICT work permit application (appendix 3) to the Migration Directorate (local authority).

  2. You apply for a national D visa at the Bulgarian consulate or embassy.

  3. Your accommodation provider registers you as a tenant with the local authorities once you arrive in Bulgaria.

  4. You apply for a residence permit at your local immigration office if you’re staying longer than the duration of your national D visa.

Application documents

Bulgaria’s authorities may request different documents at different stages of the process. Usually, they need:

  • completed permit application form – the forms differ by Migration Directorate
  • UK passport with 2 blank pages, valid for 3 months after your intended departure date
  • 1 colour passport photo (35mm x 45mm)
  • police clearance certificate
  • diploma certificate, if you’re a trainee
  • document proving you have specialist knowledge and experience in your field, if you’re a specialist or manager
  • signed employment contract with your UK employer
  • signed assignment agreement with your UK employer
  • document proving you’ve worked for the UK company or group for 12 months if you’re a manager or specialist, or 6 months for trainees
  • organisational chart and excerpt from the companies’ register, or other relevant documents showing the relationship between the UK and Bulgarian companies
  • letter from the Bulgarian company explaining why you need the EU ICT permit
  • declaration of compliance with Bulgarian labour laws
  • list of non-Bulgarian employees working for the company in Bulgaria
  • marriage certificate, if applying with family
  • birth certificates of any children, if applying with family
  • comprehensive health insurance cover in Bulgaria for you and any dependants
  • evidence you have enough money to support yourself and your family
  • proof of residence in Bulgaria and notarised landlord declaration
  • notarised copy of your rental agreement in Bulgaria

Work permit (for posted workers)

You can apply for this work permit if you’re in Bulgaria for up to 1 year because you’re:

  • transferring from a UK-based company to a branch in Bulgaria
  • providing services to a client in Bulgaria for a UK employer

To qualify you must:

  • meet minimum salary requirements – you need to check the required amount with the Bulgarian authorities as it may change over time
  • have educational or professional experience relevant to the position
  • keep your UK employment
  • stay on UK payroll

If you have a spouse or children under 18 they can join you by applying for a long-term (Type D) visa.

This work permit can take between 10 to 14 weeks to get. It’s valid for the duration of the assignment for up to 1 year. You can’t extend it.

How it works

You need to check with Bulgaria’s authorities on the exact process. This is a rough guide to help you prepare.

  1. Your employer submits a work permit application (appendix 3) to Bulgaria’s Employment Agency.

  2. You apply for a national D visa at the Bulgarian consulate or embassy.

  3. Your accommodation provider registers you as a tenant with the local authorities once you arrive in Bulgaria.

  4. You apply for a residence permit at your local immigration office in Bulgaria if you’re staying longer than the duration of your national D visa.

Application documents

Bulgaria’s authorities may request different documents at different stages of the process. Usually, they need:

  • completed permit application form – the forms differ by Migration Directorate (local authority)
  • UK passport with 2 blank pages, valid for 3 months after your intended departure date
  • 1 colour passport photo (35mm x 45mm)
  • police clearance certificate
  • diploma or other qualification certificate relevant to the job
  • detailed job description
  • signed UK employment contract
  • signed assignment agreement with your UK employer
  • declaration of compliance with Bulgarian labour laws
  • list of non-Bulgarian employees working for the Bulgarian company
  • company registration certificate for the UK company
  • confirmation letter issued by your UK employer stating the terms and conditions of your assignment
  • copy of service contract between your UK employer and the Bulgarian company justifying your assignment
  • marriage certificate, if applying with family
  • birth certificates of any children, if applying with family
  • comprehensive health insurance cover in Bulgaria for you and any dependants
  • evidence you have enough money to support yourself
  • proof of residence in Bulgaria and notarised landlord declaration
  • notarised copy of your property deed or rental agreement in Bulgaria

Working for a company in Bulgaria on a long-term Bulgarian contract

You need one of these long-term permits if you want to work for a company in Bulgaria on a Bulgarian contract:

EU Blue Card

You qualify for an EU Blue Card if you:

  • have an employment contract with a company in Bulgaria for at least 1 year
  • are being placed on Bulgarian payroll
  • earned at least 1.5 times more than the average salary in Bulgaria in the past year
  • have a 3-year bachelor’s level degree relevant to the position from an accredited non-Bulgarian university

If you have a spouse or children under 18 they can join you with this permit type.

An EU Blue Card can take up to 12 weeks to get. It’s valid for up to 4 years. You can extend it for another 4 years. This permit type can lead to permanent residence if you meet the criteria.

How it works

You need to check with Bulgaria’s authorities on the exact process. This is a rough guide to help you prepare.

  1. Your employer submits a work permit application (appendix 3) to the Migration Directorate (local authority).

  2. You apply for a national D visa at the Bulgarian consulate or embassy.

  3. Your accommodation provider registers you as a tenant with the local authorities once you arrive in Bulgaria.

  4. You apply for a residence permit at your local immigration office in Bulgaria if you’re staying longer than the duration of your national D visa.

Application documents

Bulgaria’s authorities may request different documents at different stages of the process. Usually, they need:

  • completed permit application form – the forms differ by Migration Directorate
  • UK passport with 2 blank pages, valid for 3 months after your intended departure date
  • 1 colour passport photo (35mm x 45mm)
  • police clearance certificate
  • diploma or degree certificate relevant to the job
  • CV
  • detailed job description
  • signed employment contract with a Bulgarian company
  • letter confirming you meet the relevant requirements to carry out a regulated profession in Bulgaria, if applicable
  • declaration of compliance with Bulgarian labour laws
  • marriage certificate, if applying with family
  • birth certificates of any children, if applying with family
  • comprehensive health insurance cover in Bulgaria for you and any dependants
  • proof of residence in Bulgaria and notarised landlord declaration
  • notarised copy of your rental agreement in Bulgaria
  • evidence you have enough money to support yourself

Single residence and work permit

To qualify for this work and residence permit you must:

  • have an employment offer from a company in Bulgaria
  • be on Bulgarian payroll
  • meet minimum salary requirements – you need to check the required amount with the Bulgarian authorities as it may change over time
  • have education or professional experience relevant to the position

If you have a spouse or children under 18 they can join you by applying for a long-term (Type D) visa.

A single residence and work permit can take between 16 to 20 weeks to get. It’s valid for up to 3 years.

How it works

You need to check with Bulgaria’s authorities on the exact process. This is a rough guide to help you prepare.

  1. Your employer carries out a labour market test and submits proof to the Labour Bureau that they haven’t been able to fill the position locally.

  2. Your employer submits a work permit application (appendix 3) to the Bulgarian Migration Directorate (local authority).

  3. You apply for a national D visa at the Bulgarian consulate or embassy.

  4. Your accommodation provider registers you as a tenant with the local authorities once you arrive in Bulgaria.

  5. You apply for a residence permit at your local immigration office in Bulgaria if you’re staying longer than the duration of your national D visa.

Application documents

Bulgaria’s authorities may request different documents at different stages of the process. Usually, they need:

  • completed permit application form – the forms differ by Migration Directorate
  • UK passport with 2 blank pages, valid for 3 months after your intended departure date
  • 1 colour passport photo (35mm x 45mm)
  • police clearance certificate
  • proof of labour market test
  • diploma or degree certificate relevant to the job
  • CV
  • signed employment contract with the Bulgarian company
  • detailed job description
  • written explanation from the Bulgarian company stating why they need to hire you
  • letter confirming you meet the relevant requirements to carry out a regulated profession in Bulgaria, if applicable
  • list of Bulgarian nationals and non-Bulgarians working for the Bulgarian company with equal rights and employment conditions, according to Bulgarian law
  • declaration of compliance with Bulgarian labour laws
  • marriage certificate, if applying with family
  • birth certificates of any children, if applying with family
  • comprehensive health insurance cover in Bulgaria for you and any dependants
  • proof of residence in Bulgaria and notarised landlord declaration
  • notarised copy of your rental agreement in Bulgaria
  • evidence you have enough money to support yourself

Self-employed (freelance) work

You need a permit for carrying out freelance activities if you want to carry out self-employed work or set up a business in Bulgaria.

To qualify you must:

  • prove that your business is economically viable
  • be able to show that you can support yourself financially

If you have a spouse, or children under 18 they can join you with this permit type.

A freelance permit can take between 12 to 16 weeks to get. It’s valid for up to 1 year and you can extend it. This permit type can lead to permanent residence if you meet the criteria.

How it works

You need to check with Bulgaria’s authorities on the exact process. This is a rough guide to help you prepare.

  1. You apply for a freelance permit (appendix 4) from the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy

  2. You apply for a national D visa at the Bulgarian consulate or embassy.

  3. Your accommodation provider registers you as a tenant with the local authorities once you arrive in Bulgaria.

  4. You apply for a residence permit (appendix 3) at your local immigration office in Bulgaria if you’re staying longer than the duration of your national D visa.

Application documents

Bulgaria’s authorities may request different documents at different stages of the process. Usually, they need:

  • completed permit application form – the forms differ by Migration Directorate (local authority)
  • UK passport with 2 blank pages, valid for 3 months after your intended departure date
  • 1 colour passport photo (35mm x 45mm)
  • police clearance certificate
  • business plan
  • proof you have enough money to support yourself
  • proof of your trade, such as a professional licence that meets Bulgarian standards, if application
  • proof of Bulgarian language proficiency (minimum level B1)
  • marriage certificate, if applying with family
  • birth certificates of any children, if applying with family
  • comprehensive health insurance cover in Bulgaria for you and any dependants
  • proof of residence in Bulgaria and notarised landlord confirmation
  • notarised copy of your rental agreement in Bulgaria

Research work

To qualify for a residence permit for research you must have an employment offer from a recognised research institution in Bulgaria. You must have:

  • a hosting agreement to work on a research project under the provisions of the Scientific Research Promotion Act
  • at least a master’s degree

A researcher permit can take between 9 to 12 weeks to get. It’s valid for the term of the hosting agreement and you can extend it. This permit type can lead to permanent residence if you meet the criteria.

If you have a spouse, or children under 18 they can join you.

How it works

You need to check with Bulgaria’s authorities on the exact process. This is a rough guide to help you prepare.

  1. You apply for a national D visa at the Bulgarian consulate or embassy.

  2. Your accommodation provider registers you as a tenant with the local authorities once you arrive in Bulgaria.

  3. You apply for a residence permit (appendix 3) at your local immigration office in Bulgaria if you’re staying longer than the duration of your national D visa.

Application documents

Bulgaria’s authorities may request different documents at different stages of the process. Usually, they need:

  • completed permit application form – the forms differ by Migration Directorate (local authority)
  • UK passport with 2 blank pages, valid for 3 months after your intended departure date
  • 1 colour passport photo (35mm x 45mm)
  • hosting agreement with a Bulgarian research institution
  • police clearance certificate
  • marriage certificate, if applying with family
  • birth certificates of any children, if applying with family
  • comprehensive health insurance cover in Bulgaria for you and any dependants
  • proof of residence in Bulgaria and notarised landlord confirmation
  • notarised copy of your rental agreement in Bulgaria
  • evidence you have enough money to support yourself

Bulgarian government guidance

Read official Bulgarian government information on visas, work permits and residence.

Check for travel changes

European governments may update or change their rules without notice.

You should always check foreign travel advice, for updates on issues such as safety and security, entry requirements and travel warnings before travelling, or planning to travel.